Is Indiscriminate 1080 Poison Use Causing a Rat Plague in NZ?

Off the Top of my Head

By Paul Murray

The New Zealand Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright

The New Zealand Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright was invited to address the Nelson Science Society on August 19, 2014 at the Old St James Church on the subject of her report on the use of Sodium Fluoroacetate (1080 Poison)  to control mammalian pests in New Zealand.

N.Z. Government agencies the Department of Conservation and the Animal Health Board use 1080 poison to control possums, stoats and rats, which are deemed a threat to New Zealand’s native flora and fauna and are thought to be a vector for tuberculosis, which may threaten the health of dairy cattle and the country’s important dairy industry.

The use of 1080 is controversial in New Zealand and many people across the country vehemently oppose the continued use of the poison and in particular, the indiscriminate aerial broadcasting from helicopters over large areas of native forest and National Parks.

Many people also question the efficacy of the Government’s poison policy as the poison also kills many native animals in the process. Valid concerns over the ecological, environmental impact and possible human health implications associated with the use of 1080 are also widespread.


Staunch opponent of 1080 poison Waikato Regional Councillor Clyde Graf films a poisoned deer for his documentary “Poisoning Paradise” on the subject of 1080 poison in New Zealand.


Possums are considered a pest in New Zealand

Taupo drop couple more birds

Dead native birds found after a 1080 poison drop

There is also considerable concern among N.Z. tourism operators that the poisoning programme is having a negative impact on New Zealand’s Clean/Green 100%Pure international brand and that it may deter travellers from visiting the country.


1080PoisonWarning_gobeirneKea Deaths small copy

Dr Wright’s report “Evaluating the use of 1080: Predators, Poisons and Silent Forests” was released in June 2011 and controversially recommended that the use of the poison  be increased.

Dr Wright spoke to a full house and presented her report in an attempt to convince all in attendance that it was based on a comprehensive study that gave due consideration to public concerns and incorporated all known scientific studies and information. Dr. Wright allowed questions after her address and I asked a question that she was unable to answer “on the spot.”  She invited me to present the question to her in written form so that she and her team could provide me with a good answer. My letter is attached below.

Paul Murray
Managing Director
Iltamara Ltd
P.O. Box 54
Karamea 7864
New Zealand
September 1, 2014
Dr Jan Wright
Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment
PO Box 10-241
Wellington 6143
New Zealand
Tel: 64-4-471 1669


Dear Dr Wright,

Thank you for coming to Nelson to address the Science Society and explain your report “Evaluating the use of 1080: Predators, poisons and silent forests.”

You may recall I asked a question after your speech that was difficult for you to answer and you invited me to present the question to your Wellington office for clarification.

Thank you for the opportunity and I would also like to ask several other questions that are of concern to me and many others while I have your ear.

The observations myself and many other Karamea residents of the 1080 operation that covered 54,000 ha of the Western Kahurangi National Park in 2008 is that rodent populations have exploded. We now have rat and mice problems in our homes and businesses that did not exist before the aerial 1080 operation, which was conducted by the Animal Health Board (AHB).

Rodents are extremely fecund and following the 1080 operation, they repopulated a zone that was devoid of predators (all killed by the poison) and with an abundant food supply, this lead to a rapid escalation in their population.

  1. Given that you accept that rodent numbers quickly recover after an aerial 1080 operation, is it also correct that stoat numbers also quickly recover given that, as you suggest, rodents are their main food source?
(A Landcare Research study published in its publication Kararehe Kino 13 (2008) (Page 5) also shows that rat populations quickly exceed pre-drop numbers)


Please provide scientific evidence that aerial 1080 operations effectively control rodent populations and that the populations do not return to or surpass pre-1080 drop levels.

  1. Is indiscriminate aerial broadcasting of 1080 poison not resulting in an increase in rodent and stoat numbers?

Please provide scientific evidence that the use of aerial 1080 is not contributing to a long-term net increase in rat and stoat populations.

 My concern here is that if aerial 1080 programmes lead to and increase in rodent populations, it would seem counter-productive to use this method to “control” rodents and by association other animals like stoats given that they are also fecund and their numbers likely also increase rapidly in line with the increase in rodent population.

 Given that the overall essence of your report is to recommend that more 1080 poison be used in New Zealand, I have some other questions that are important to me and many other New Zealanders regarding the assessment and ongoing monitoring of the effectiveness, destructiveness and overall efficacy of the proposed 1080 poison operations nationwide by the Department of Conservation (DOC).

I note with appreciation that you recommend that DOC improve the transparency of its 1080 operations and improve the quality of communication with the public. I also appreciate that you recommended the AHB be subjected to the Official Information, and the Ombudsmen acts.

  1. Should the AHB (now known as OSPRI or TB-Free New Zealand) have conducted any follow-up studies to determine the efficacy of the 2008 1080 operation in the Western Kahurangi National Park? (Studies showing reduction in possum numbers, TB infection rates, impact on non-target native species etc.)
  1. Should DOC have scheduled any pre-drop monitoring programmes to determine possum, stoat and rat numbers and native bird and animal populations in the drop zones ahead of the 1080 operations scheduled for the Kahurangi National Park in the coming year?
  1. Should DOC conduct ongoing monitoring procedures after the 1080 poisoning and throughout the life of the consent to determine the efficacy of the pesticide operation and gauge the extent of the loss of native birds, invertebrates, insects and aquatic life (non-target species) and the long-term impact on the populations of pests and non-target species in the drop zones and for the life of the consent?
  1. Should DOC monitor of water quality in the poison zone following 1080 drops to measure possible contamination of water resources in the area throughout the life of the consent?
  1. What contingency plans should DOC have to mitigate the potential negative effects of the 10-year poison programme on local tourism?
  1. How should DOC notify the public of the extent, location and timing of drops during the life of this consent if granted? (Given that DOC 1080 operations are now deemed “Non-Notifiable)

I am a Karamea tourism business operator. I also have a permaculture farm in the region that has been pesticide free for 10 years.

I feel that the proposed 1080 operation by the DOC will compromise both the marketing strategy for my tourism businesses and also the pesticide-free status of my permaculture farm.

I also own and maintain a Web site promoting the Heaphy Track and administer a FaceBook page for the Heaphy Track I am also a member of the Karamea Estuary Enhancement Project I actively support DOC activities in the Kahurangi National Park as evidenced by my involvement in promoting DOC facilities and projects in the region.

My businesses in Karamea also provide logistical support, services and facilities people utilising DOC facilities in the Kahurangi National Park, I work with DOC on a daily basis and appreciate that pest control over such a large estate is a difficult challenge. I also support pest-specific possum control initiatives conducted by DOC and the AHB in the Kahurangi, but strongly oppose the broad-scale, indiscriminate broadcasting of 1080 pesticide over a vast region of the park as I consider it:

  • A threat to the quality of life for myself and my family
  • Raises health concerns for myself and my family
  • Has a serious negative impact on my business activities in Karamea
  • Violates the nation’s “Clean Green/100%Pure” brand that is used to promote New Zealand internationally.
  • Compromises the marketing strategy of my business and indeed the entire nation.
  • Compromises my efforts to maintain a pesticide-free permaculture farm

Myself and many other Karamea residents publicly opposed the aerial 1080 operation conducted in the Kahurangi National Park by the AHB in 2008 and my position and that of the other residents on the issue has not changed. We find aerial 1080 pesticide operations to be an unacceptable solution to possum control and evidence suggests it creates a raft of other problems in the forest.

Scientific studies show that rat populations explode after aerial 1080 operations and that was certainly the observation of people living in Karamea following the 2008 poison programme and rat numbers in and around the town are still high in my experience. Prior to the 2008 1080 poisoning, I hadn’t seen a rat in the town, however, soon after the aerial pesticide operation, rats began to invade our homes and businesses. It’s ironic that the rats you say are one of the targets of the proposed 1080 programme are resultant from the last poison operation.

Poisoning vast areas of the national park leads to an elevation in rat numbers in the poison zone. Rats quickly repopulate the poisoned forest and come into an area devoid of predators and with an abundant food supply and their numbers are shown to surpass population levels that existed in the area prior to the pest-control operation. Surely then the use of 1080 poison is a redundant strategy as is exacerbates the problem.

Following the experience of the 2008 AHB drop and the associated negative impact on and restriction to my business trade, I requested DOC give me advanced notice of any scheduled similar aerial 1080 poison operations in the Kahurangi National Park so I can inform all potential customers that my business will be closed for the duration of the programme and for at least one month following to ensure all risk associated with the baits has passed and the pesticide has broken down in the soil to “harmless by-products,” or until all green baits have decomposed.

I consider this the only responsible action I can take to protect the reputation of my business, honour my marketing strategy—in which I actively invite people from all over the world to visit the pristine, pure, clean, green and scenically beautiful environment in the Karamea region—and prevent the risk of possible exposure to the poison of guests staying at my accommodation facilities and utilising my transport service.

I have established good standing as a professional eco-tourism operator over the past 10 years and I consider that the proposed aerial 1080 operation is a serious threat to that hard-earned reputation. If my business continues to host guests during and immediately after the 1080 poison programme, I risk my business marketing strategy being considered specious and hypocritical given that they way I promote my business is contrary to inviting people to come and visit a poisoned forest.

There will be a significant financial loss incurred by my business by closing for which I reasonably expect to be compensated. Would you please provide me with information as to how I might file a business compensation claim so that I might recover the losses incurred resulting from the interruption to my business and restriction to trade?

I am not opposed to pest-control and appreciate that national park management is a considerable challenge for DOC, but ask that any pesticide use specifically target the pest in question. I strongly oppose broad-scale indiscriminate aerial poisoning of vast regions of DOC administered land in the name of New Zealand and New Zealanders. I appreciate your consideration of the issues I have raised and hope to receive a full response to the questions I have asked in this letter.

Should you have any questions, or require more information, please e-mail, or call me any time. 

Yours Sincerely,

Paul Murray

(Managing Director Iltamara Ltd)

*** The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s Report on 1080: “Evaluating the Use of 1080: Predators, Poisons and Silent Forests” can be downloaded here:

Posted in 1080, Agriculture, Business, Department of Conservation, DOC, Economics, Education, Environment, Historical, Kahurangi National Park, Karamea, LivinginPeace Project, Media, New Zealand, Politics, Social Commentary, Sustainablity, Tramping, Travel, Uncategorized, West Coast | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Karamea Ministry of Red Tape: #25

A New Zealand Government Department authorised by a covertly suspicious and deliberately rhetorical Act of Parliament and compounded by a tacit Royal Approval to receive Official Complaints!

By Raving Reporter Товарищ Самсон Казаков

Office Manager:           Red Scarlettt

brunettes women melinda clarke red dress 1920x1200 wallpaper_www.miscellaneoushi.com_35

Senior Complaints Officer:   John Foitzpartytrick II


John Foitzpartytrick II

Office Receptionist:     Queen Elizabeth III

Rupaul as a woman

Office Bimbo:       Mother Theresa IV


Mother Theresa IV

Office Filing Clerk:     Pelvis V


Pelvis V

Office Bookmaker:    Pope Shamus O’Toole VI


Pope Shamus O’Toole VI

Tea Lady:        Dianna Spencer VII



Karamea Ministry of Red Tape Offices, Market Cross, Karamea

1030 hrs, Monday April 1st, 2014


Goliath:               Hello???


Queen Elizabeth III:           Hello????


Goliath:          Down here!!!


Queen Elizabeth III               Oh my goodness…a homunculus!


Goliath:           I am a vertically challenged individual wot is desirous of applying for the vacant position of Karamea Ministry of Red Tape Barman!

NO BYLINE... N49ck310 The Saint Bar in St Kida. Pic. Supplied INI99676.

Queen Elizabeth III:           Ha! My pet Corgi Roger is vertically challenged!!              You my son are a leprechaun!


Mother Theresa:      Aaaaaaaaaggggggggghhhhhhhhhh!!! A goblin!!!!


Pope Shamus O’Toole:      Holy crap!!! Satan Lucifer Beelzebub!!!


Goliath:      Father!! It’s me your long lost bastard son!

Screen Shot 2013-11-19 at 3.33.50 PM

Pope Shamus O’Toole:    Mutter O’Mary!! A lying leprechaun!!!


Pelvis:     Hey shorty, don’t you step on my blue suede shoes!


Red Scarlett:     What is all the commotion out here? I am in serious conference with the Ministry Senior Tax Inspector, the Minister of Finance and Doc Holliday!!


Office of Red Scarlett, Karamea Ministry of Red Tape Office Manager


Doc Holliday:        Read em and weep pardners!!! Five aces!!!!!!!!!!!


Minister of Finance:      You bloody cheat!!!!!!!!!

Guy de Rotschlid

Tax Inspector:     Yeah!! All those aces are hearts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Minister of Finance:      Indeed! I also have an ace of hearts!!!


Doc Holliday:             Yeah, but do you have a six gun this big???


Queen Elizabeth III:       Wow!!!!!!!!!!


Mother Theresa:        Thank you Lord!!!!!!!!


Queen Elizabeth III:          Pon my word young knave! You deserve to be knighted!!!!


Red Scarlett:      Zip it Doc! I am attending to serious Karamea Ministry of Red Tape business out here!


Reception – Karamea Ministry of Red Tape 


Red Scarlett:      Oh my what a cute little boy! Hello!


Goliath :     I am 34 years of age and I am here to ap..pply for…..


Red Scarlett:  Haaaa! What is your name then???


Goliath:            Goliath!!!


Red Scarlett:            Goliath!! You’re kidding! Oh I can’t breathe for laughing!! Ha ha ha!


JFK:               Pity you’re not bald too! I know a bloody great joke !


Goliath :                         I can mix any drink you can name??


Queen Elizabeth:                             I’ll have a Martini, Henry!


Goliath:                           Voila Madame!


Queen Elizabeth:                        Burp! Jesus, I’ll have another, make it a double!!


Pelvis:                        Bourbon and coke dude!!!         Slurp!!!!!!!!!  Snort!!!!!!!!!!!!


Pope Shamus O’Toole:                   In t’name of t’father I’ll be having a Guinness!


Goliath:                   There you are your worship!

NO BYLINE... N49ck310 The Saint Bar in St Kida. Pic. Supplied JQJ68005.

Pope Shamus O’Toole              Titn’t tooch t’sides! Better have                                                                                         anuther! Hic! And make it a double!!


Red Scarlett:          You’re hired! You are also hereby designated to be Karamea Ministry of Red Tape Executioner!


Goliath:             Do I need a weapon???


Red Scarlett:               Ha ha ha! HA HA HA!!!!!! What a comedian!!! Yes, here!!


Goliath:               Wow a colt 45!!!!

Performer's sticky situation with vacuum cleaner

Madeleine:           Pardonnez moi???


Red Scarlett:          Yes!!

irina shayk Red Strapless Dress

Madeleine:        I wish to make ze complaint!!


Red Scarlett:     An official complaint??

irina shayk red dress pic

Madeleine:    Mais oui!!


Red Scarlett:    Goliath!!!!!!!!

(Radio Karamea 107.5 FM        “   …Kenny Rogers!!   “Jack Ruby!!! Please don’t take your gun to town!!!!!!!)

DJs Crap & Echo

Goliath:    I can’t pull the trigger for laughing!! She’s so fat and so ugly!! Ha ha!


Madeleine:    I am circumferentially and visually challenged, but I believe Jesus                             loves me!


Goliath:                 Noooo!!!! Ha ha ha! A rotund attractively challenged Jesus freak!!! Ha ah ha!!!!!!!!!!!!


Pelvis:              I’ll kill her, give me the gun!!!!!! Ha ha noooo ha ha!!!!!! Stop                             looking at me like that!!! Ha ah ha!


Mother Theresa :      Give me the gun you gutless hound dog! Am I the only with any balls round here!! Handes Hoch Fraulein!!!!


Madeleine:      No please don’t kill me I’ve got an appointment at Jenny Craig’s in                                half an hour!!!


Goliath:          It’s your lucky day!




Doc Holliday!:              Great shot!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Red Scarlett:             Congratulations! Let’s celebrate! Call out for a                                                   Pizza!!!!!!!!


Pelvis:                                   Extra anchovies!!!!!!!!!!!!


Queen Elizabeth:          Look in her handbag! Whittakers Peppermint Extra Cacao Chocolate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Goliath:              Mmmmmmmmmm! Yum!!!


Mother Theresa:            Cup of tea????


Posted in Uncategorized, West Coast, Humour, Humor, Photography, Parody, Satire, Fashion, Historical, Art, Politics, Social Commentary, Business, Economics, Religion, Funny, Hilarious, Weird, United States, Education, New Zealand, Banking, Money, Erotica, Jesus, Sex, Radio, Karamea Radio, Royal Family | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Welcome to the Wonderful World Winston!

Off the Top of My Head

By Paul Murray

Winston John Aita MurrayAfter 41 weeks of abstinence and special duty of care, Sanae Murray again subjected herself to a medical exorcism and delivered a handsome little devil at Nelson Hospital just after midnight on the morning of September 3, 2014.

He weighed in at 3.585 kgs (a sparrow weight) and remarkably resembled Winston Churchill…not the keen-looking,  preppy Boer War journo Churchill…more the wrinkled booze and cigar ravaged elder statesman Churchill (minus the obligatory cigar).

So, after much discussion with Mum, Winston was chosen as the handle for newest Murray. We feel it fits him rather well and hope it encourages deft acuity, eloquence and determination in the child….and should he ever encounter any Nazis, he’ll take no truck with them either. Of course pomposity, arrogance and grotesque physical appearance would be the downside, but I hope young Winston adopts his namesake’s positive attributes and transcends the negative.

For some reason, “John” is the name traditionally given to the eldest male in the Murray clan and, as he is half Japanese, we also gave him the Japanese name “Aita,” which means “Abundant Love.” So it’s welcome to the wonderful world Winston John Aita (愛太) Murray, may you live long and well little man.

Its early days yet, but the wee chap would seem to be a good sleeper (his mother’s side) and an enthusiastic drinker (my genes I expect) and has a pleasant disposition, he smiles frequently and appears to be taking on the world with calm ardour and inquisitiveness.

Sanae was determined to have a natural birth and was progressing very well through the horrendous ordeal of labour, ably assisted by our competent and lovely midwife Kerensa. I was by her side in my role as moral supporter and coach…”Come On,” “You can DO it,” “Go for IT,” “Go, Go…GO,” “PUSH,” ‘Well Done,” “Breathe” etc, etc…sideline encouragement for the team was the extent of my input. But alas, after many hours of seeing my dear wife’s eyes roll white, hearing her agonised muted screams, much grunting and moaning…our obstetrician Dave made the call to preform an “emergency C-section” as the baby was clearly not able to escape. (It transcribed that Sanae’s pelvic orifice was insufficient to allow passage of the child and a vaginal birth would have been a physical impossibility, so it was the right call).

Then, after the patently ludicrous process of going through the legal documents and expecting an exhausted woman in the throes of labour to understand or even care about jurisprudence…her signatures were hastily scribbled Xs somewhere near the appropriate dotted lines and once the medical staff’s potential culpability was waived, we scrubbed up, donned medical blues and were off to the theatre.

There we met with another posse of strangers, including a Russian sounding woman who insisted on attempting  a somewhat sinister-sounding, heavily accented albeit well-intentioned conversation with exhausted Sanae  (“Zis time, Mr. Bond, za pleasure vill be all mine!”), who, at that juncture, could have cared less about the f*#%ing weather.

An epidural was administered by groovy Steve Jobs-looking anaesthetist “Roger” and I was again privy to the brutality of the cesarian section operation, which resembles wild animals pulling apart a carcass. Little blue Churchill was quickly extracted…pulled out by his head from the steaming crimson innards of my conscious but heavily sedated wife (the epidural calmed her down considerably…that’d be the morphine I expect). Sanae was screened off to the carnage going on in her stomach, but I was able to give her a running commentary of proceedings by peering over the screen and the shoulders of the surgeons…being tall has its advantages…and disadvantages.

The baby was released into the capable hands of the pediatrician (who had been also previously legally immunised at the slash of Sanae’s pen) where he was cleaned off, his passages cleared and weighed…there he performed his first act of defiance, immediately endearing himself to his proud father…he pissed all over a nurse.

** (The epidural needle is about six inches long and the gauge of #8 wire…it goes in through the back and into the spine…not something I would ever wish to try, unless my uterus was labouring to expel a foetus from my body…alas another experience I’ll likely never have)**

***In passing I should commend Sanae on her exemplary grace, composure and dignity in the face of excruciating agony…”Oooo Gosh” was the strongest oath uttered during her ordeal…she’s a true lady the wife!***

The family tracked into the hospital each morning and again in the evening to see my scratchy spouse (it’s a bitch coming of heroin) and beautiful son. They came home this morning and we’ll stay here in Nelson for another couple of weeks resting up, relaxing and welcoming young Winston into the Murray family with our daughter Diva and extended family of Sanae’s sister and parents…and I imagine there will be considerable sake consumed in line with the Japanese tradition to celebrate the expansion of one’s family…Campai!

****The entire staff at Nelson Hospital were tremendous, from the cleaners to the surgeons, everyone worked together to make our experience again thoroughly enjoyable, stress ands hassle free…thank you linesmen, thank you ball boys…Great Match!****(Special thanks to Jean, Kerensa, Kevin, Suzy, Dave, Roger, Dot, Wendy…and many others whose names we don’t recall, but whose kindness and care we will always remember).


Winston WED_9391_2


Related Article from The Rongolian Star Archives: 

Huge Win on Melbourne Cup Day!

Off the Top of My Head

By Paul Murray

I’m overjoyed to report that our first child “Buster” Murray was born on 1/11/11 at 2:44 a.m. in Nelson Hospital…I can also report that, other than the end result, there is absolutely NOTHING beautiful about childbirth…it’s more like a mixture of serious drug withdrawal and an exorcism…brutal pain, gnashing and grinding of teeth, blood, mucus, sweat…plenty of shouting, screaming, tears, involuntary twitching, praying, begging for mercy, hot flushes, cold shivers, uncontrollable shaking, a procession of uniformed officials performing rituals, probing orifices, inserting catheters, needles, tubes, and drips, swabbing and mopping as anxious relatives look on…Labour must be a construct of the devil…but my wife’s purgatorial suffering has produced a little angel…in her eyes we see the future…overwhelming tides of love flow from me when I see her smile…never have I seen such perfection…I can’t wait for you to meet her! I told her about The Rongolian Star and she burped, vomited and crapped herself!

…I should add that the replay of “The Exorcist” we experienced finished more like “Alien 1″ as my wife eventually had a cesarian section (after 12 hours of demon banishing) and Diva emerged from my wife’s midsection looking not unlike the bloody, goo-covered extraterrestrial that popped out of Sigourney Weaver!

Anyway, we have a daughter…It has come to pass that she was born on the same day my father David died 28 years ago, so we chose a name from the letters of his name…Diva is also Latin for Goddess, and she can really wail…Grace is how we hope she’ll comport herself throughout her life…Enna is Japanese for lots of laughter.



If you’re interested in astrology…28 years is the time for theplanet Saturn to return to the same position in relation to Earth…Diva arrived in the same planetary alignment as when my father departed…One could argue that there is a 1 in 365 chance, but I like to think my Old Man has some sway in these matters!

Welcome to the world Diva Grace Enna Murray…nickname “Buster.”

Mother and Daughter doing very well…Father managing….

A few weeks before the birth, a Canadian friend rang and walkedme through the delivery procedure as he’s had two children and far moreexperienced in these matters than I. He highly recommended huffing on thenitrous oxide, which is freely provided to labouring mothers to help takethe edge off the pain. I took this exceptional advice with me to thehospital and managed to action it on the day.

The N2O is delivered with oxygen and goes through a mixer at about 50/50
before being delivered to the agonised mother to be via a flexible plastic
hose with a mouthpiece attached. She sucks on the mouthpiece and the gas
flows. The mixer makes a rattling noise, like small stones in a bottle, to
indicate the gas is being delivered. It worked a treat for Sanae, whom I
thought was going to snuff it…the gas calmed her and she took to it much
like “Buster” is now taking to her breasts, but that is another story for
another day. Her contractions were coming around every 90 seconds, once
the pain maxed out, she stopped huffing, which is where I came in.

I first changed the mixer to 100% NOX and then had it jangling like Tito
Puente’s maracas! Half a dozen good hits on pure N2O certainly got the
brain going…distant things became quite close, everything went liquid
silver like mercury…angels were flapping about…that sort of thing…just
then, our midwife/GP returned to the room and seemed to
realise I wasn’t quite as she’d left me…in fact, she seemed quite
clinically interested in observing the effects of nitrous oxide on
pre-natal fathers…or perhaps that was a paranoiac symptom of the
NOX…I’ll never really know, anyway, she seemed to expect me to have
helped myself to the gas and didn’t seem at all bothered…she in fact
appeared rather amused. She then informed us that “Buster” would be born
on Melbourne Cup Day 1/11/11…and all I could think to say in response
was to repeat the childhood tongue twister…”One One was a racehorse, Two
Two was one too, 22 won one race, 11, won one too,” which, on reflection,
wasn’t bad under the circumstances!

In other news, Sanae appears to have developed a third breast. Apparently,
humans have a line of mammary glands running down their torso…rather
like sows. In Sanae’s case, the one under her right arm has activated and
is engorged with milk…so my wife is not only gorgeous, she now has three
tits! (I feel the cosmic worm is turning and our recent spell of bad luck
is about to change!) Diva’s arrival will change a whole lot of
things…all of them for the better.

Buster’s also something of a scatologist…I was holding her last night with my forearm under her bum and she released an explosive turd that had now where to go but up…she had shit all up her back and in her hair…her racy new white jumpsuit is a less fashionable shade of brown now…Sanae was less than impressed at the 3:00 a.m. malarkey, but took it all in her motherly stride and quietly changed her clobber, mopped her hair and back and reattached her for more ammunition…will she never learn?

Last week, I was changing her in the night and just as I had the old nappy off, she simultaneously sneezed and let fly with a fresh batch of baby poo that fired out under considerable pressure just clipping my left flank and leaving the wall behind me looking like the beginning of a Jackson Pollack…an abstract yellow streak up the wall that required some explanation to the less than impressed landlord…my claims that my child was merely expressing her creative talent and that I wouldn’t charge her for the artwork failed to convince her to refund our bond…some people just have no appreciation for modern abstract.

The other incident occurred halfway home when we stopped for lunch at the Riverside Cafe in Murchison. We woke Diva and proudly strolled into the restaurant among the customers carrying our new baby. We stopped by a couple who were enthusiastically hoeing into their lunch. They looked up at the waking Diva who proceeded to rip of a VERY loud and rather moist sounding fart tableside…the patrons visibly paled, their respective appetites evaporated as the stench wafted over their table and they seemed to concurrently decide that it was time to start dieting…must have been something wrong with the food!

She’s also learning about rugby…Sanae’s nipples were red raw and bleeding from the hammering they’ve taken in keeping the juice up to the growing bundle of joy. The midwife showed us a new breast-feeding hold she termed the “Rugby Hold.” The new hold positions the baby under the arm as you’d carry a rugby ball on the run. My role is to pass the baby and, in keeping with the rugby theme, have developed a kind of scrum ritual where by I say, “Crouch, touch, pause….engage.” She has become used to the routine, much as Pavlov’s dogs learned to salivate in the expectation of food…on the command of “crouch” her little mouth puckers up, on “touch” her eyes widen with anticipation, with “pause” her head starts to shake and the on “engage” I place her ready mouth on Sanae’s willing nipple and she commences enthusiastic suckling…hilarious! (With Sanae’s permission, I might film the ritual and send it to you…Sanae is getting quite used to getting her norks out in front of all and sundry, so why not share the joy on YouTube?)

Daddy and DD

Posted in Australia, Children, Funny, Hilarious, Historical, Humor, Humour, Japan, Karamea, LivinginPeace Project, Marriage, Nazis, New Zealand, Peace, Photography, Quotes, Social Commentary, Uncategorized, West Coast | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Incredible Adventures of a Swedish Centenarian

Off the Top of my Head

By Paul Murray

Book Review:

“The 100-year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared” By Jonas Jonasson


A fertile imagination is not something you’d expect from a person with the name of Jonas Jonasson, but his book “The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared” is evidence that Mr Jonasson has significantly transcended the creativity of his parents, or indeed that of his Nordic ancestors.

On the eve of his 100th birthday, almost centenarian Allan Karlsson escapes from the banality of his mundane existence in an old-age facility in rural Sweden and goes on a fantastic voyage. In his twilight, Karlsson manages, among other incredible feats, to steal 50 million kronor (over $US7 million) in drug money from a Swedish gangster, inadvertently kill two gang members, recruit his own gang, elude the violent and angry gang boss (before eventually converting him to Christianity), stay just ahead of the police, befriend an elephant and finish up getting married in Indonesia and living happily ever after.

The hilarious tale is interspersed with anecdotes from Karlsson’s equally extraordinary life and is very much a ‘Forrest Gump” tale of someone who just kept on keeping on with blithe regard for life’s complications like politics, religion and social norms. He overcomes numerous seemingly insurmountable barriers by maintaining a positive mental attitude and believing that a solution to whatever predicament he finds himself embroiled in will eventually present itself.

His casual, come-what-may approach to life and incredible good fortune, leads him share his penchant of vodka with many of the history’s largest names and, in associated inebriation, develop useful first-name friendships with many, including; Chairman Mao, Harry S. Truman, Lyndon B Johnson, Charles de Gaulle and Winston Churchill.

During the course of his fascinating life, Karlsson manages to become an explosives expert, saves General Franco from being blown to pieces, and thereby aids the establishment of a fascist dictatorship in Spain, solves the problem of nuclear fission for U.S. scientists working on the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos and later provides the solution to a similar problem for Russian physicists and thereby initiating the Cold War.

When in China, he finds himself straddling both sides of the civil war by befriending Mao’s wife Jiang Qing and Soong Mei-ling, wife of Kuomintang leader Chiang Kai-Shek. He escapes his potentially life-threatening situation in China by traversing the Himalayas on foot and arrives in Iran a prisoner of the notoriously ruthless Iranian police chief whom he subsequently manages to blow up and simultaneously thwart an assassination attempt on the life of Winston Churchill who had stopped off in Tehran en-route to Kenya to visit his friend the Shah. In the ensuing chaos, he again manages to escape certain death and arrives at the Swedish Embassy in Tehran, where he is granted asylum and eventually makes it back to Sweden––on the intervention of his friend President Truman––where he is promptly abducted by a Russian physicist in the hope he will assist the Soviets also build an atomic bomb.

In the Soviet Union, Karlsson then manages to infuriate Stalin at a dinner party by inadvertently revealing that he’d been responsible for saving the lives of both of General Franco and Winston Churchill and then exacerbating the situation by drunkenly reciting a verse by a Swedish poet Verner von Heidenstam, a fascist sympathiser. He then tangles with Stalin’s ruthless Soviet security and secret police (NKVD) head Marshal Lavrentiy Beria and winds up in a gulag with Herbert Einstein, the dim-witted brother of Albert Einstein…they make a daring escape together after five years hard labour by destroying the entire city of Vladivostok, arrive in Pyongyang, meet both Kims (Il Sung and son Jong Il), and Mao Zedong…and then wind up in Bali for a 20-year holiday financed with greenbacks the United States had provided the Kuomintang that been subsequently sequestered by the Communist Party (a gift from his friend the Chairman). Karlsson becomes fluent in half a dozen languages, is appointed interpreter for the Indonesian Ambassador to France…I could go on and this book certainly does!

“The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared” is a fun read that presents a simplistic, but interesting take on 20th Century history and politics and reminds readers that living life is the most important thing about it.

*It transcribes that Jonas Jonasson’s original name was Pär-Ola Jonasson. Why he changed it is not known…perhaps for ease of recognition and retention by the international audience now familiar with his work…apologies to Mr. Jonasson’s parents for my presumption.

**(Swedish names that may be difficult for non-Scandinavian readers are also simplified throughout the book with the use of nicknames for the ease of comprehension…which makes this book much easier reading than anything by Fyodor Dostoyevsky!)

***The book has been made into a film that will be released outside of Sweden in September 2014.

The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson Published by Allen & Unwin (2013) ISBN 978 1 74331 793 8


Posted in Book Review, Drugs, Economics, Education, Funny, Hilarious, Historical, Humor, Humour, Money, Politics, Product review, Social Commentary, Sweden, Travel, United States, War | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Artist Crumb Illustrates Writer Bukowski

By Maria Popova

In the early 1990s, two titans of the artfully cynical and subversive joined forces in an extraordinary collaboration: Legendary cartoonist and album cover artist Robert Crumb illustrated two short books by Charles Bukowski, “BringMe Your Love”   and “There’s No Business.” Crumb’s signature underground comix aesthetic and Bukowski’s commentary on contemporary culture and the human condition by way of his familiar tropes — sex, alcohol, the drudgery of work — coalesce into the kind of fit that makes you wonder why it hadn’t happened sooner.

In 1998, a final posthumous collaboration was released under the title “The Captain is Out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship” — an illustrated selection from Buk’s previously unpublished diaries, capturing a year in his life shortly before his death in 1994.

Posted in Art, Book Review, Funny, Historical, Humor, Humour, Social Commentary, United States | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

LivingInPeace Project Resident Artist Retrospective

Off the Top of My Head

By Paul Murray

When friend Erik Sanner became a “struggling artist” stereotype and almost starved on the hard streets of Tokyo, I thought something should be done.

I’d written a couple of articles about Sanner when working as a journalist in Japan, I attended his exhibitions and purchased some of his artworks. We became good friends and I followed his artistic career with interest.

Sanner had invested the full measure of his considerable creative talent into establishing himself as an artist in Japan and his failure to even be able to support himself financially suggested to me that aspiring artists like him needed help. When Sanner gave up on his dream to be an artist and went to work for CitiBank, I was convinced, something must be done.

I decided to do that something and moved to Karamea at the top of the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand and founded the LivingInPeace Project in 20o4.

The stated objective of the LivingInPeace Project was to combine the elements of Art, Travel, Permaculture and Education into a sustainable business. The art facet of the project sought to provide aspiring artists like Sanner with a place for them to live and work and a means of assisting to promote and market their creations.

(Fortunately, Sanner returned to art once his financial situation improved and he is making quite a name for himself in avant-garde art circles in New York City, check out his work at

All aspiring artists face the same paradox; No one buys their work because no one knows who they are, and no one knows who they are because no one buys their work. Another challenge is that creative art skills and creative marketing skills are diametrically opposed and not generally found in the same person. The LivingInPeace Project aims to help artists become established by transcending such conundrums.

The LivingInPeace Project Artist-in-Residency Programme began in 2005 when Canadian artist Dave Besseling, whom I’d also befriended in Tokyo, came to Karamea for three months to concentrate on his drawing. He became the our first official resident artist and we have hosted an artist every year since.

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Besseling went on to travel the world, collect a post-graduate degree in journalism, publish two books of poetry and a travelogue about his journey and is now the features editor for Gentleman’s Quarterly (GQ) magazine in India. The LivingInPeace Project and Karamea, as well as myself, receive a good mention in his book, which is titled “The Liquid Refuses to Ignite.”

Dave Besseling Book II

Since 2005, the LivingInPeace Project has assisted aspiring artists to overcome the financial challenges of getting established and helped them develop their creative talent into a sustainable practice for life.

So far in 2014, resident artists from Northern Ireland, Canada, Italy and Germany have accepted residencies and the success of programme has expanded its capacity and ability to host artists.

Northern Irish artist Norma Burrowes returned to Karamea for her second residency in February 2014 to complete work she began during her first visit in 2010. She was fortunate to receive a travel grant from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland that covered her airfare and mitigated the cost of flying across the world in the name of art.

Burrowes arrived in 2010 as a photographer and used the images she collected to return in 2014 as a photographic textile artist. In the interim, at home in Antrim, N. Ireland, she had combined her passion for photography with her love for fabric and came up with a photo kaleidoscope tapestry that she presented to the LivingInPeace Project as a “tablecloth” for the long dining table at Rongo Backpackers & Gallery, which is the setting for many long discussions and much hilarity over communal meals with people from the world over. We considered the piece to be far to beautiful to spill wine on and decided instead to permanently install it on the ceiling above the table to preserve it for all to enjoy into perpetuity.

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The ‘Table Cloth” by Norma Burrowes

From her Karamea experience, Burrowes created a series of stunning kaleidoscopes from her photographs that take the beauty of nature and convert it into symmetrical fractal patterns that create an entirely new artwork that in turn reflect natural patterns, textures and colours.

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Karamea Photo Kaleidoscopes by Norma Burrowes

Burrowes put together an art exhibition of her new work before flying home and was successful in selling many of the works. The exhibition was held in the Karamea Radio Station Lounge behind Rongo Backpackers & Gallery, which is part of the LivingInPeace Project accommodation facilities.

Norma Burrowes Exhibition


2010 and 2014 LivingInPeace Project Resident Artist Norma Burrowes.

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She also agreed to an interview on Karamea Radio. Hear it Here:

Dejana Lukac from Alberta, Canada also accepted a residency in 2014. Lukac comes from a background of abstract and graffiti art and uses those mediums to reflect on nature and mimic organic forms.


2014 LivingInPeace Project Resident Artist Dejana Lukac

She arrived before Norma Burrowes had vacated the Artist’s Bach that is offered to resident artists and began her residency at Rongo Backpackers & Gallery. There she was able to live with the work of previous resident artists, which is on permanent display in the hostel gallery. She was also able to befriend Burrowes and attend her exhibition.

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As a young world traveller, Lukac found instant rapport and empathy with the guests and staff at Rongo and together they did many expeditions into the Kahurangi National Park and immersed herself in the natural opportunities afforded her by living in Karamea as a resident artist. Her resultant work was steeped in the natural imagery and the textures, patterns and designs of the natural environment.

Lukac chose to show her work outdoors in the natural environs of the Karamea Estuary. Her exhibition was well attended by local people and visitors from many countries, including Germany, Belgium, Australia, Japan and Italy.

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Hear a Karamea Radio Interview with Dejana Lukac Here:

Most artists make prior contact and schedule a residency before arriving, but others come as guests at either of the LivingInPeace Project’s accommodation facilities; Rongo Backpackers & Gallery, or Karamea Farm Baches and ask to stay on as resident artists.

This year, Marco Gianstefani, a documentary filmmaker from Milan, Italy, arrived at Rongo where he heard about the LivingInPeace Project from founder Paul Murray and one of the directors, Gerar Toye over dinner at the hostel. Gianstefani, who was formally the creative director for one of Italy’s largest advertising agencies, was looking for a subject for his next film and found it in Karamea, perhaps the most remote town on mainland New Zealand.


Marco Gianstefani

He stayed on as a resident artist for several months, collecting stories and footage about the project, it’s people and location. He was joined by friends Paolo Baccolo and Silvia Bazzini, who were in New Zealand testing a new high definition camera (EOS 1-D) for Canon. They also stayed as resident artists at the LivingInPeace Project to assist with the collection of footage for the documentary. 


Silvia Bazzini (left) and Paolo Baccolo


Paolo Baccolo and Silvia Bazzini


Marco Gianstefani on location at Scotts Beach on the Heaphy Track, West Coast, South Island (near Karamea).


Marco Gianstefani on location at Kohaihai, Heaphy Track, Karamea.

Gianstefani shot hundreds of hours of footage and conducted over 50 interviews with people involved with the LivingInPeace Project and residents of the Karamea region. He has now returned to Milan to begin the mammoth task of editing and collating the information into a documentary film that he hopes to enter into the Sundance Film Festival later this year.

While in Karamea, he also did his own radio show on Karamea Radio. He called his show “20-4- 20″ and it featured 20 soundtrack songs from 20 of his favourite films.

Shota Kawahara from Japan was another artist who discovered at the LivingInPeace Project as a traveller. He stayed several times at Rongo as a guest and as a Wwoofer (volunteer) to help run the hostel and the permaculture farm. Kawahara, a graduate from the famed Kyoto University art school, then stayed on as a resident artist and was unique in his ability to paint in the public gallery space while being asked questions and conducting conversations as he worked. He even recruited other travellers to assist him with his painting. Several of his works now form part of the permanent collection in the Rongo Gallery.


Shota Kawahara with his lovely assistants

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Shota Kawahara (back) with the Rongolians


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Shota Kawahara at work in Rongo Backpackers & Gallery


Shota Kawahara at play in Rongo Backpackers & Gallery

Kristin Mikrut from Chicago also arrived as a Wwoofer, she helped out for a while and then returned the following year as a resident artist. The highly creative Mikrut specialized in installation art and used her creative skills to engage the Rongo guests in her artistic projects. She had travellers from all over the planet who pass through Rongo writing messages for bottles that she built into a message wall, she also encouraged people to take a button and sew it onto their favourite piece of clothing to accessorise their outfit with a spot of art that then accompanied them on their travels thereby spreading her artistic influence throughout the world.


Kristin Mikrut with her “Message in a Bottle Wall.”


In another work, she collected postage stamps, colour graded them and then pinned them to a Rongo wall emanating from a silhouette profile of her own face made from cassette tape. The work represented her time as a LivingInPeace Project resident artist and her many thoughts.


Mikrut returned to her home in Lake Forest, Illinois, about an hour from Chicago, and set up ReInvent art gallery with her friend Cecilia Lanyon. The venture displays artworks, holds exhibitions, provides workspaces for artists and also hosts resident artists. She had met Shota Kawahara at Rongo when she was a resident artist and invited him to the United States to be a resident artist and exhibit his work at ReInvent.

(Read more here: Japanese Artist Shoto Kawahara Takes on Chicago)


An international artistic collaboration that began at the LivingInPeace Project in Karamea on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand. Kristin Mikrut and Shota Kawahara at the ReInvent Gallery in Lake Forest, Illinois.

The project hosted two more artists from the United States. Kyle Browne from Massachusetts in 2008 and Tokyo-based New Yorker Jason “Ponzi” Ponzuric in 2009.

Artist and educator Browne is a graduate of the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York and has a post-graduate art education degree from Lesley University in Cambridge Massachusetts.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Kyle Browne at work during her residency at the LivingInPeace Project

During her residency, Browne matched her love or art with her passion for teaching and conducted life drawing classes and paper-making workshops at Rongo, did and art class with the children at Karamea Area School and also had an exhibition of the work she produced in Karamea.



Art Class at Rongo with 2008 Resident Artist Kyle Browne


Danish traveller Luna Moller enjoys Kyle Browne’s art class at Rongo



Kyle Browne (centre) with Karamea locals Gisela Simon (left) and Sanae Murray at am exhibition of her art works at the Rongo Gallery.


“Stark Naked” by Kyle Browne


Kyle Browne welcomed the 2014 New Year in Karamea and put her artistic talents to work on the beach.


Jason “Ponzi” Ponzuric, who is from New York, but has been living in Japan for over 20 years, stayed for three months as a resident artist in 2009. Ponzi also offered art classes for guests at Rongo conducting a life drawing session and a woodblock printing workshop.


Ponzi at work in the Artist’s Bach during his 2009 LvingInPeace Project artist residency


Ponzi live painting at Rongo at the Karamea Radio shack.


Ponzi live painting at Saracen’s Bush Lounge in Karamea


Ponzi’s woodblock print-making workshop at Rongo with Nobuyuki Kamei from Japan (right) and Joyce Lau Ho Ming from Hong Kong (centre).


“Smoking Fish” by Ponzi



A graduate from the Montserrat College of Art in Beverley, Massachusetts, Ponzi has made a name for himself in Tokyo as a “Live Painter.” He sets up his easel at live music performances and interprets the music with a painting in front of the audience. He has also been known to body paint female dancers as they perform and has now reinvented himself artistically as the guitarist and frontman in the popular Tokyo band “Tits, Tats & Whiskers.”


Tits, Tats and Whiskers live in Tokyo


Hard-Rockin’ Ponzi (Photo by Maki Ambo)


Tokyo Band “Tits, Tats & Whiskers” (Photo by Marcellus Nealy)

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In the winter of 2009, Wellington-based videographer Ed Davis utilised the LivingInPeace Project facilities to make a music video for Auckland musician Donald Reid.

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A tight production budget provided Davis with the artistic challenge he revels in…taking an opportunity and using his creative mind to produce excellence. To assist him, he recruited the Rongolians and the people of Karamea, who came out in force to see the project through.

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The music video for Reid’s song “Hitting on Me” was filmed exclusively in Karamea on a single day on a budget of $500.

Israeli manga artist Tzook Marcel Har-Paz also arrived at Rongo as a traveller and became a resident artist after he revealed to us a special talent for drawing.

Tzook has never had any formal art training, but his father is an art teacher and artist and he has grown up in an environment where the use of the right brain is encouraged and fostered.

Fresh from a national service stint in the Israeli Army, Tzook was ready for the cathartic process of expressing himself artistically and the LivingInPeace Project artist residency was instrumental in not only helping him find his feet creatively, but also in lightening the mental baggage he carried with him from his time in the military.

During his residency, Tzook was interviewed by a Japanese TV crew who were in Karamea filming for the TV show “Sekkai no Hatte no Nihin Gin” (Japanese at the Ends of the World) about the life of my wife Sanae, who is from Tokyo.  The film crew came to document her life in Karamea for Japanese television. The television crew were very interested in Tzook’s Japanese manga-style work and interviewed and filmed him at work for the TV show.

Tzook became part of the LivingInPeace Project. he helped out at the hostel, worked on the permaculture farm, went fishing with the guests and Rongo crew and became a “Rongolian” (citizen of Rongo) during his time as a resident artist. An amicable person with a great sense of fun and funny, he quickly found rapport with the people passing through and forged many a friendship with the people he met.










…To Be Continued…

Filmmakers Elise London and Louis-Philippe Carretta (Louca) accepted a residency in the summer of 2012 to document the LivingInPeace Project. The pair met as students at the New York Film Academy and formed  PassitOn Films after they graduated. The company creates short, documentary-style promo videos for businesses, organizations, and individuals who are passionate about what they do. London and Louca believe that “video can communicate that human element that still images and words can only reach for.”

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LivingInPeace Project video by Louca and Elise:


Elise also kindly assisted me with an artistic collaboration by compiling a collection of photographs into a stop-motion production called “花見/花火 Hanami / Hanabi”

and a photographic story about the history of Rongo Backpackers & Gallery: See the short/medium and long-play versions of the slideshow below:

Belgian artist Arnaud Vanderkerken, known as PsoMan, arrived as a Wwoofer (volunteer), but stayed as a resident artist once his prodigious talent was revealed to us.


DSC_0170PsoManIIPsoMan also agreed to collaborate with me on an artistic project. He took one of my abstract art photographs and we used it to make the “Exhibition of One Photo”

Exhibition of One Photo by Paul Murray & PsoMan


The Original: Taken on the Heaphy Track in the Kahurangi National Park at the Top of the South Island of New Zealand

In 2004, I walked the Heaphy Track to collect information and take photographs for the Web site. Along the way, I happened across a rock and took its image home with me.

I try and incorporate a metaphor in my abstract nature photos to increase their artistic merit.

To me the image represents the passage of life. The staircase through the photograph indicates the challenges and seemingly insurmountable barriers that we all face as we travel through time. Easy times when life is good are represented by the horizontal lines, the difficulties by the vertical…with the net result being an exponential increase that represents the gaining of wisdom, knowledge, experience, comprehension and proficiency and the steps get smaller as life progresses toward the end…the challenges of life easier to negotiate.

Looking at the photograph from different angles and rotations, it occurred to me that the image was interesting whichever way it was viewed and also that it could be joined to make patterns and flows that could be used to highlight the different perspectives and imagery in the picture.

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PsoMan assisted with the project to blend the images together into a whole series of montage photographs that utilize the original shot to make beautiful patterns, new stories and art forms. The image was not altered in any way other than rotated, matched together and joined.

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Almut Prange from Stuttgart, Germany was the most recent LivingInPeace Project resident artist. She arrived in May 2014 struggling with her muse, but soon found her creativity bubbling again after taking the opportunity to concentrate on her artistry in a quiet, peaceful place surrounded by the inspiration of nature.

After graduating with a Master of Arts degree from the Alanus University of Arts and Social Sciences in Alfter, Germany, Prange embarked on a world trip to put some perspective on her life and to decide how to spend hers. In New Zealand, she heard about the artist residency programme and applied. She was soon living in the Artist’s Bach at the Karamea Farm Baches complex confronted with the opportunity to spend six weeks concentrating exclusively on her art.

Prange got to work and produced numerous new works and also found new way to express her creativity. She collected driftwood from the nearby beach and estuary, studied the form and patterns of nature preserved in the wood. She enhanced the textures and lines by painting in concert with the art of nature and gradually recovered from her artistic malaise. She then began a series of abstract portraits that began to also select the natural patterns, shapes and designs she saw in the driftwood and in the surrounding Kahurangi National Park.

Social interaction with the staff and guests at Rongo afforded her a diversion from the intense concentration of artistic expression and an opportunity for rest, relaxation and good conversation over dinner after a hard day at the palette.


Almut Prange at work in the Artist’s Bach in June 2014

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Rongo Dinner

Almut Prange (Right) enjoys dinner with the staff and guests at Rongo after day’s painting.

Over the past 10 years, the LivingInPeace Project has hosted a range of artists including; painters, photographers, poets, writers, musicians, sculptors and hosted live music performances, theatre, poetry recitals, book readings, clown performances, art classes and workshops. The stated objective of the project is to support art and artists and has done and will continue to do so.

To enquire about a residency at the LivingInPeace Project, please contact Paul Murray by e-mail:
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Artist Almut Prange Rediscovers Her Muse

Off the Top of my Head

By Paul Murray

2014 LivingInPeace Project Resident Artist Almut Prange


German artist Almut Prange was travelling around New Zealand on holiday and found the experience spoke to her muse. It said, “You must go somewhere quiet and concentrate on painting.”

She listened to her inner voice it led her to Karamea at the top of the West Coast of the South Island, where she settled for a month as a resident artist at the LivingInPeace Project, a venture that supports aspiring artists and helps to promote their art.

Like many creative people, Almut was experiencing a frustrating artistic block, but she quickly overcame the barrier when she arrived in Karamea and took up residency in the “Artist’s Bach,” a quiet, peaceful self-contained cabin on a permaculture farm, which is part of the Karamea Farm Baches complex. With chickens on out one window and grazing sheep on the other, she set to work on rediscovering her inspiration.

A prolific deluge of artistic production ensued and Almut not only overcame the mental obstruction to her creativity, but also found new direction in her work from the quiet contemplation afforded her by the residency and being surrounded by the beauty of the Kahurangi National Park that envelops the small rural community of Karamea.

The New Zealand landscape, Maori cultural influences and the patterns and forms of nature became evident in her new works. She collected driftwood from the beach and began to add paint to enhance the natural shapes and designs on the wood. Abstract portraits were enhanced with Maori-like patterns and influences and her art took on a new dimension.

Social interaction in the evenings with the staff and guests at Rongo Backpackers & Gallery, which is also part of the LivingInPeace Project, provided her further inspiration. “I really enjoyed hanging out at Rongo surrounded by artworks from previous resident artists, watching movies in the cinema, enjoying the music on Karamea Radio, eating dinner together…great food and good conversation,” she said.

Rongo Dinner

Dinner in the Rongo Gallery, great food and good conversation with people from all over the world every night.

Almut showed her gratitude for the artist residency by leaving behind several of the artworks she finished during her stay, some abstract portraits and painted driftwood that was instrumental in her rediscovering her artistic inspiration. Rongo guests will be able to see her work and that of many other resident artists on display in the gallery at Rongo Backpackers.

Thank you Almut for coming all the way to Karamea and accepting an artist residency and for the beautiful artworks you left us with, we wish you all the best for your future in art and life.

Before heading off to continue her travels through New Zealand, Almut agreed to an interview on Karamea Radio, which broadcasts from Rongo, you can listen to the interview by clicking on the link below.

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Posted in Art, Education, Environment, Kahurangi National Park, Karamea, Karamea Radio, LivinginPeace Project, New Zealand, Permaculture, Photography, Radio, Social Commentary, Tramping, Travel, Uncategorized, West Coast | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment